My Overly Wordy 24 Hours in the Canyon Race Report. Is it more of a marathon than the race itself? I’ve never done a race report but I always enjoy reading other people experiences, especially for events I’ve participated in or would like to participate it, so here it goes.
This was the tenth anniversary of the 24 Hours in The Canyon at Palo Duro Canyon. The race benefits the 24 Hours in the Canyon Cancer Survivorship Center in Amarillo, TX. It’s billed as the only simultaneous 24 hour road and mountain bike race in the country. The race is brainchild or Ryan Parnell and is the favorite of many roadies and mountain bikers across the country.
My beautiful wife Laurinda, grandson Braylen, and I arrived at Palo Duro Canyon at about 5PM after a six hour drive on Friday before the race. We were lucky enough to have a bed in the one of the rim side cabins with friends and Big Pig teammates Jerry McNutt and Sharon McNutt and Monica Otte Even if you have no interest in bicycles I’d highly recommend a visit to Palo Duro Canyon State about twenty minutes south of Amarillo. One of the hidden treasure of Texas and the entire country for that matter.
Noon on race day, one thing was clear. The weatherman’s predictions of temps in the mid-80s were wrong. It felt like it was in the high 80s already and not a cloud in the sky. I’m usually pretty tolerant of the heat so I wasn’t too concerned and even welcomed it, frankly if it had been cold and/or wet then that would have been a big psychological hurdle for me.
All of the road riders and mountain bikers were rallied together in the parking lot for a parade start behind an ambulance. So when we started out the non-competitive road riders turned right after leaving the parking lot and the mountain bikes and non-competitive road riders turned left and followed the ambulance. This made a huge mess as a competitive mountain biker is still faster than a non-competitive roadie, so we all got mixed together. When we got to the point where mountain bikes need to turn right to enter the single track and roadies need to go straight it got little hectic and dangerous. I’m sure it sounded good in theory but in practice it was kind of a mess.
We entered single track about two miles from the start and it was the mess of accordion riding that comes with the several hundred riders riding together, I just settled in and resolved to hold my pace and not worry about passing anyone. The first lap or two of any endurance race are usually the adrenaline laps and I’ve learned you sometimes have to force yourself to ease of the gas in order to have some in the tank for later, especially for an event you’ve been preparing several months for. After the first lap I rode straight on through to try and get ahead of as many people as I could, by then the racers were spread out enough that you weren’t riding right on someone’s tail and eating their dust for the entire 8.5 (8.2 by my Garmin, but who’s counting) miles.
I pitted for 5-10 minutes after nearly every lap after lap two and paid a bit of a time penalty for but I also think it made me stronger in the long run as it gave me a chance to eat and drink. Perhaps avoiding sitting down would get me in and out quicker. I have to admit having my grandson there was a fun and him cheering me on was great, but may have facilitated my staying in the pit are a bit longer than planned.
Darkness came somewhere in my eighth or ninth lap, but my TrailLED XXX light kept the trail bright and clear for me. I had a bar light on, but only used it in the early dawn hours when I didn’t need the bright light but still needed something. I changed my battery after every lap and put the used battery on to charge, when I got back to the pit the charger was green indicating the battery was fully charged, so I can attest to the 1:1 charge time as advertised. Thanks Grady Pace!
Around 12:30AM I was into my three-quarters of the way into the 12th lap and was walking my bike by a rocky staircase when I heard a familiar voice come running up behind me Jason, Jason, hurry up, go, go, go they’re coming, they’re right behind us€ thinking oh, shit, the zombie apocalypse has started (which makes perfect sense 12 hours into a 24 hour race) I scurried up the hill and looked back to see Sharon McNutt coming up the hill behind me. Wait, who is coming€ I asked. Fresh legs, the twelve hour racers are coming they’re going to catch us. Oh, well hell they’re going to catch me anyways, but at that point we were nearly to the spot where it was literally all downhill to the finish so I just laid off the brakes and rolled into the pit, not twelve hour racers in sight, but I’m sure there were more than a few zombies wandering around the pits.
After that lap I managed one more to get to lucky number 13 before my arms, shoulders, elbows, neck and legs started spasming and locking up and I knew it was time to shut it down for a bit. That was hands down my longest lap of the race at around 1½ hours and ironically the exact amount of my total laps from last year’s race.
I rolled into the pits at about 2:30AM, took four Aleve, four Sport Legs, and a Salt Stick. Drank a Carnation Breakfast drink and ate a Honey Stinger wafer and laid down to try and get some sleep. Next time I think I’ll make it a point to also have a tooth brush and toothpaste in the pit, brushing your teeth can be a great pick-me-up and make you feel a little bit cleaner than you are.
My sleep was fitful at best, I alternated between too hot and too cold even though temps got down into the upper forties or so I was told. But as the sun came up at around 6:30AM I felt good enough that I was going to try and better my personal best from last year. I felt even better when I went to check the standing and saw Marcus Gillespie was only a lap up on me andTim Nipper was only a lap better than him. (I didn’t even look for Brian as I knew he had a couple of laps on Tim.) Thinking they must have laid down to take a nap too I thought I might be able to close up the gap on one or both of them if I hit the trail. Feeling surge of adrenalin I jumped on my bike and took off, it wasn’t until about half way through the lap I realized I hadn’t checked to see when those results had been posted. Sure enough, when I got back to the pit and saw updated standings, Marcus and Tim were up on me by 3 and 4 laps respectively. Still I figured there was an outside chance I could make it up if they blew up from a lack of rest. So I took off for another lap if for nothing more than for pride. When I came back to the pit after lap 15 it was apparent that they weren’t going to take a break so at that point I decided to concede and vow to go after them next year. I’m quite happy with my 15 laps and 127 miles of single track.
A few observations, as a solo rider, sharing the course with 12 and 6 hour racers and relay teams is a pain. I did piss a couple of guys off on my last lap when I refused to pull of the trail for them to fly by. I moved over to the right to give them room to pass on the left but the guy behind me didn’t call out when he was going by and hit my ass with his bar, didn’t really hurt or bother me, but he nearly went down and nearly took the guy behind them down too. Probably why one of them yelled out €œFucking Big Pig€ when he went by. Oh well it’s not a XC race and I’m not a €œlapped€ rider and have no obligation to stop my race for you, just because you’ve got fresh legs. For the most part though most of the riders who came up behind me and the ones I passed were courteous, so I’ll just chalk that experience up to surliness due to sleep deprivation on us all. Second, I’ve been riding SS for about 1½ years and I notice my riding style has evolved quite a bit compared to the geared riders out there. From attacking hills with speed, to learning how to corner and descend with minimal braking. Momentum is definitely your friend on a single speed.The water station with ice cold between mile markers 6 and 7 were a god send and a goal on each lap.
My nutrition consisted mostly of SkratchLabs orange and one bottle of water on each lap. A HoneyStinger wafer at least every two laps,a hugepaydaybar, a couple of #Aleve when I needed them. Along with Peanut Butter and honey sandwiches, pickles, watermelon, and a hamburger from the park trading post.
Huge congratulations to Brian Brennfoerder, Tim Nipperr, and Marcus Gillespie for finishing 1, 2, & 3 in the 35-49 single speed class. I think this was the most competitive class among the solo 24 riders either geared or SS. Those guys laid down nearly 70 laps and 600 miles between them.
Thanks to Phillip Climer for playing pit bitch and keeping my bike rolling throughout the night. Great to have you on the team. Thanks to Grady Pace for not only making a great product in TrailLED but also for theKeurig and coffee in the morning it hit the spot. Thanks and congratulations to all my Big Pig teammates who made the trip and competed or supported. It was great to see all of you. Thanks to Rich Szecsy for this wisdom he imparted at his endurance “seminar” last year. I definitely saw all three wizards and my stated goal was never more than one more lap. And if you’re still with me, last but definitely not least, a huge, huge, huge thank you to my beautiful wife Laurinda for not only supporting me in my training and at the race, but for also taking some terrific pictures. Couldn’t have made it without you. 24HoursInTheCanyon fotogalloriBigPigRacing SSOD OnePlusOneEqualsOne PaloDuroCanyon#Trailled FuckCancer #Keurig #Aleve #SkratchLabsCarnationInstantBreakfast HoneyStingers PaydayBars